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Monday, 29 November 2010

Nursery Militarism: X Factor is just the tip of the iceberg

I paste below extracts from a disturbing article on John Hilley's blog from 28 November which touces upon and deepens the analysis advanced by USBlog on Help For Heroes in the past week or so. Nursery militarism - Us and Them

My thanks to Simon, a Media Lens contributor, for posting this revealing email letter received from his two year-old child's nursery:

We’re Busy helping our Heroes at Nursery!Dear parent/guardianBusy Bees Nurseries in our region are holding special Heroes open weeks across the UK to celebrate local heroes in our community, and raise vital funds for the Help for Heroes charity to support British soldiers wounded in service.from the 7th – 11th June, the nursery will be holding a special Heroes Open Week, when the children will be taking part in various hero-themed activities including a march around the nursery garden, an assault course, and a creative day, where children will have the chance to make cards and presents for their Dads, just in time for Father’s Day! Special visits from firemen, nurses, and policemen and other community and Nursery heroes will also take place throughout the week, sharing their skills and knowledge with the children.The climax of the Heroes Open Week will be a ‘Family Fun Day in aid of Help for Heroes, on Saturday 12th June. This exciting event will include a one minute silence at 12pm in remembrance of all the brave soldiers who have served for their country, followed by a superheroes fancy dress parade.We hope you can support this fantastic fundraiser by coming down to nursery on the 12th June for a spectacular event the whole family can enjoy!Yours sincerelyThe Busy Bees Team

Simon objects to his child being selectively exposed to this kind of militaristic display and 'Hero' ethic. While happy to see people from the emergency services present, he believes this "goes way beyond that". Simon is concerned at the prospect of his little one marching around a nursery building, military style, and being urged to negotiate assault courses.I share his concern. It's deeply disturbing that such innocent minds can be inculcated in this way; indeed, one might reasonably view it as a form of child abuse.But it's symptomatic of the intensified popular militarism we're currently seeing and the darker ways in which the 'Heroes' agenda serves to authenticate brutal and illegal wars.I had a useful chat, in passing, the other day with a Help for Heroes collector. I asked her whether injured, traumatised, bereaved and displaced Iraqis and Afghans could also be considered heroes and worthy of support. She said that would be "controversial" and that "in time of war, we have to support our own."

I suggested that all human beings, irrespective of ethnicity or state, should be regarded as "our own", that "we're all the same human beings worthy of equal care and empathy." She accepted the point, agreeing that there are many victims of war, but that our priority is still with "ours"."Ours." 'Us' and 'Them'.

What ideological assumptions and 'educational' values lie behind those words? Only the lives and well-being of 'our' soldiers seemingly matter, not the tragedy and suffering of civilian and - yes, dare I say it - military 'others'.Charity, some say, should begin at home. That's often a convenient pretext for downgrading or ignoring the suffering of those 'we' consider 'them.'

Despite its proclaimed intentions, Help for Heroes is part of that same 'our boys' jingoism peddled by 'our' political elite and obedient media to excuse and sanitise violent and unconscionable actions against those 'others'.
The irony is important: it is they, 'our' rulers and controllers, who, in thought and deed, are actually foreign to many, probably most, peace-seeking citizens of the planet. As was massively articulated on streets around the world, the warmongers do not speak in 'our' name.Help for Heroes claims it is not political. Judge for yourself from the appeal presented in their handout leaflet:

Meanwhile, Simon has written, in good conscience, to his child's nursery challenging its planned displays of militarism. His complaint has been passed on to the group's regional operations director for consideration.
It often takes not a little courage to defy 'educational' convention and other parents' polite or 'dutiful' acceptance of such events. Indeed, risking possible social estrangement in doing so is a little heroic statement in itself.John
* Busy Bees is currently owned by the US-Singaporean corporation Knowledge Universe, which was co-founded by Michael Milken, the convicted US junk bond dealer and model for Oliver Stone's character Gordon "greed is good" Gecko in the film Wall Street.

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